The Patriots had a lot of great linebackers in the Bill Belichick era and Bruschi has to be at the top. He won three Super Bowls and was also named a second-team All-Pro twice. In addition, he was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2005 after suffering a mild stroke in February of 2005.
Bruschi's best seasons were 2003 and 2004 when he recorded 79 and 76 tackles respectively.
“There’s no player that I think epitomizes more of what I believe a player should be on the field, off the field, really, in every situation,” Belichick said when Bruschi was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. “I guess, if you ask me to sum up how I feel about Tedy Bruschi in five seconds: He’s the perfect player. Perfect player. He’s helped create a tradition here that we’re all proud of. The torch has been passed, and we’ll try to carry it on. It’s a high standard. It’s a high standard.”
Vrabel simply just did a lot of things really well. He wasn't exceptional at anything, he just did a lot of things very well and in doing so was one of the best linebackers ever to play for the Patriots. Heck, he even caught a touchdown in a Super Bowl.
The now coach of the Titans saw his best season come in 2007 when he recorded 12.5 sacks and 55 tackles. In his eight years with the Patriots, he finished with 48 sacks and 411 tackles. He also won three Super Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro for his 2007 season. He was traded in 2009 to the Chiefs that even Belichick appeared to have a hard time doing.
"When Mike arrived in 2001, we knew we were adding a solid outside linebacker. But where Mike took it from there exceeded our highest hopes," he said in a statement after the trade. "Mike Vrabel epitomizes everything a coach could seek in a professional football player: toughness, intelligence, play-making, leadership, versatility and consistency at the highest level. Of all the players I have coached in my career, there is nobody I enjoyed working with more than Mike. In the same way people recognize guys like Troy Brown, we appreciate and thank Mike Vrabel. He is one of the very special Patriots champions."
Phifer may have been one of the most underrated players during the Super Bowl run in the early 2000s. Beginning in 2001, he recorded 70, 67 and 66 tackles in three straight years, helping the Patriots to three Super Bowls, serving as more of a role player for the final one.
Belichick was very pleased to get Phifer a Super Bowl ring in 2001.
"I feel good for a lot of people on our team, but I don't think I feel as good for anyone as I do for Roman Phifer," he said at the time.
Honarable mention: Ted Johnson, Jerod Mayo